April 21-27 is Preservation Week! In honor of this event, we will be featuring preservation-related content on the Smithsonian Libraries’ blog as well as our other social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Today, we offer you a peek inside our own Book Conservation Lab! The Preservation Services Division of the Smithsonian Libraries is committed to the preservation, safe exhibition, and long-term access to collections objects, many of which are irreplaceable. The primary mission of the Book Conservation Lab (BCL) is to treat special and general collections items needed for research, exhibition or digitization.
When wealthy real estate developer William Elmer Harmon founded the Harmon Foundation in 1922, it originally supported causes as varied as playgrounds, biblical films and nursing programs. But it is better known today as one of the first major supporters of African American creativity and ingenuity.
Though American conceptual artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) worked in every media, he is known best for his wall drawings and series of investigations of lines, colors and shapes. If you have ever been to an exhibition of LeWitt’s wall drawings, you’ll agree there is a sense of awe (“How could someone draw so many tiny straight lines across that entire gallery?”) mixed with a sense of vertigo (“How could someone draw so many tiny straight lines across that entire gallery?”).
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some are to be chewed and digested.” ~Francis Bacon, Essays (1625) Bacon’s Essays By Francis Bacon, Richard Whately. We have talked about artists’ books on the Smithsonian Libraries blog before. And we’ll talk about them more, as a part of a short series to highlight interesting works of book art owned by the Smithsonian’s American Art & Portrait Gallery Library. But what, exactly, is an artist’s book? You may not be able to tell just from looking at the object itself!
A while ago, before the internet, I became interested in studying Saharan rock art, one of the most beautiful and extensive bodies of prehistoric art, but documentary references were hard to find. This is partly because most of the published literature on Saharan rock art is in French, Italian and German.